LaTroy Hawkins signed yesterday with the Colorado Rockies. This isn’t all that big a deal (well, other than the fact that he’ll be 41 at the start of next season and still playing in the Big Leagues). But I think I can trace my wife’s embrace of baseball directly to Mr. Hawkins.
When we first started dating, my wife tolerated baseball. She knew I enjoyed it and made the effort to like what I liked. But I don’t think she enjoyed it. It was just something she had to put up with to date me and for whatever reason, she was willing to do it.
In 2004 we went to a Braves/Cubs game in Atlanta and Hawkins was playing for Chicago. She didn’t understand why, but I wanted to get there early and watch batting practice and see the Cubs warm up as well as the chance to get a few batting practice home run balls when the crowd isn’t so big.
So we’re in the left field bleachers about two hours before the game and suddenly the players she’s only seen on television become real to my wife. “There’s that guy. There’s that other guy.” Players that until recently had only been people on the screen were now real. She’s genuinely excited.
And then, Hawkins starts tossing a few balls into the stands. He eventually makes eye contact with my wife and tosses her a ball. At this point she’s beyond excited. A major league player tossed her a ball.
That was it, from then on she was a fan. Even when Hawkins started to, how can I say this nicely…, when he started to suck, my wife still liked him because he gave her that ball.
Hawkins eventually left the Cubs after about a season and a half, but his contribution to my happiness by making my wife a baseball fan lives on. So good luck, LaTroy, in Colorado and thanks for your little gesture that’s made a big impact in my life.